Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced today the signing of legislation to implement tougher penalties on those who assault prosecutors while they are performing official duties, or in an attempt to prevent them from doing their job.
"Assaulting a prosecutor is a serious crime, but doing so with the intent to disrupt their official duties is even more serious and warrants an elevated penalty," said Governor Cuomo. "The signing of this bill adds prosecutors to a list of public servants and other individuals that are protected by heightened measures to punish this kind of heinous assault. It is important that we take a variety of measures to protect those who work to uphold justice for all New Yorkers."
Generally, assaulting a person with intent to cause physical injury is a class A misdemeanor. However, assaulting public servants, or other individuals with intent to disrupt that person's lawful and assigned duty, is elevated to a class D felony. Included under this elevating provision are train operators, traffic enforcement officers, registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, among others.
The bill signed by the Governor adds prosecutors to this list of protected persons. Now assault with the intent to disrupt a prosecutor from performing his or her duties, or causing injury to a prosecutor in the execution of those duties is considered a class D felony.
Senator Andrew J. Lanza, who sponsored the Senate bill, said, "A prosecutor's job is to serve the public by putting dangerous criminals behind bars -- a job which can come with great risks, especially when they are out in public. We need to preserve their ability and willingness to do their job effectively and protect us from those who put our families and communities at risk. As a former prosecutor, I believe this law will protect our prosecutors by discouraging abusive behavior and punishing people who assault them."
Assemblyman Matthew Titone, who sponsored the Assembly bill, said, "As we have been reminded by the tragic assassinations in Texas of the Kaufman County District Attorney, his wife, and his Assistant District Attorney, individuals in these professions take on numerous risks. Prosecutors should not be fearful for their own safety, solely due to the nature of their job. This historic and necessary piece of legislation will make the penal implications of assaulting a prosecutor comparable to that of assaulting a police officer, firefighter, or an emergency medical paramedic."